After Sara’s workshop I had expressed to Zack that I would love to photograph her; I had no idea what verbalizing those words would end up meaning and what I had just gotten myself into. Needless to say, Zack was also very keen on the idea and we decided that we would do each photograph Sara the coming Tuesday.

If you want my take on Sara’s workshops ,what I thought of that, and then photographing her you can do so, here and here.

The first image in this post is one of the shots I rejected from my shoot with Sara. In some ways I wish I had used this image in my and Zack’s shoot-out to throw people off a little more.

[Editor’s Note :: If you are just joining this series you can see the original shootout post here and then my breakdown of my portrait of Sara here. – Z]


Sara Lando by Bernard Brand


Zack and I both had an hour and a half to photograph her and we were not allowed to be at each other’s shoot. So, that gave me two days of sleepless nights and worrying about where my light would go and how I should pose Sara, etc. How would I try to apply what I had learned from her workshops and do it in such a way that it wasn’t copy/pasted? And to top it all off, she would photograph me when we were done. Shit!


Sara Lando by Bernard Brand


The image above is my final shot of Sara. I wanted to pay homage to one of Sara’s favorite photographers — Paulo Roversi (NSFW). So I incorporated some “creepy” shadows in the background.

After reading some of the comments on the shoot-out post Zack wrote, I went back in and fixed some things up, but it’s pretty much the exact same image. Note: Thanks for the good critiquing DEDPXL readers 🙂

I thought this image fit well with her personality. Under the surface there is this mystique about her. I also wanted her to look a little fragile, coz if you have her photo book Magpies there’s an underlying fragility to her which I would never have known about if I hadn’t read it beforehand.


Sara Lando by Bernard Brand

I tried the above portrait in both black & white and color, but ultimately the play between warm/cool of the color image won me over.


Sara_Lando_Before-After (1)

Here is the before and after image so you can get an idea of where I started and where I ended up.

This was my “safe” shot and I was terrified through it all. I babbled and didn’t make eye contact and I paced about, moving lights, scrims, flags, but never really connecting with Sara as a subject and boy did she let me know it afterward! 😉 I asked her after she had photographed me what she thought and what advice she had.

She said – and I am paraphrasing – I have this confident cockiness about me, but as soon as I picked up the camera I became a 13 year old boy. Haha.. You know what, though? I wanted that. I needed to know what I was doing wrong and what I could do better, because in the end you learn from your errors and then the next time you work you can address and correct them.

My second shot was something a little more conceptual and seeing as I am currently busy with album artwork for a friend’s band. I thought, what better subject than Sara? I discussed it with her beforehand and she was cool with both ideas I threw at her. So to the person who asked, “Who let’s their intern shoot their friend topless?” Zack didn’t have anything to do with it, it was Sara, seeing as she was the subject. She also wore a strapless bra, so that helped with the illusion 🙂

[Note from Zack :: That comment sort of baffled me. Bernard was free to make any sort of image he and Sara agreed to make. We aren’t five year olds. We’re all adults here.]




This is not the final image. I still want to bring it into the physical world and “destroy” it. Make it something other than what it is here. This, by the way, completely happened by accident, coz I was not happy with where the image was going. Looking at this here, I am much happier than I was the day before. I remember sitting at the end of the day going, “what the hell am I doing?” and then the next day this happened 🙂


Sara_Lando_ConceptualBefore-After (1)


The before and after of my more conceptual shot. No idea what it might end up as, but for now this is what I’ve created. Some people commented that the image felt uncomfortable and weird and that is exactly what I wanted it to be, because of the concept behind the song on the album that I was shooting this for.

Note: I didn’t know of Weston’s work until I started mirroring it and Zack gave me an earful about that, so don’t even start 🙂 After all of this it was my turn in front of Sara’s camera and….you’ll find out what happens next in the follow up post where Sara gives her thoughts on the whole ordeal.

I’d like to sincerely thank Sara one last time for the opportunity to let me photograph her and for the ass-whooping she unleashed. You’re an inspiration and I am glad that we’re now friends. I’ll be visiting you & Alessandro in Italy soon.

– Bernard

Bernard is a photographer based in South Africa who is interning with Zack for four months. Find his work at and read about his time interning on his blog Only In America

Bernard Brand


Zack Arias

A full time commercial and editorial photographer, Zack shoots everything from bands to CEOs to ad campaigns. A gifted teacher and communicator, he has an uncanny ability to meet and connect with all types of people.

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  1. Jim Robertson

    Thanks for posting your experience, Bernard. I might have melted from the pressure. Nice to know a talent such as yourself goes through similar thought processes. I really like the image at the top, sort of spooky/beautiful. Can’t wait to see what she did with you. It’s interesting to see the emerging impact that Sarah had on both you and Zack.

    • Bernard

      Spooky/beautiful.. I like that 🙂

      Oh, what Sara got me to do is pretty “shocking” and all because I jokingly said something in her presence and she is very impactful as a photographer and creative.

  2. Greg

    The shot of Sara sitting on the floor, working her art with backlight on your blog, I think, is the best shot you all have posted. Maybe it wasn’t part of the contest but it is a stellar shot.

    • Bernard

      Thanks Greg..

      That was just a quick Instagram shot I did whilst we were filming Sara.

  3. Patrick

    This and Zack’s take on the same process have been fascinating (honest – no internet hyperbole – they have), so thanks for being so honest about the experience Bernard – it is very useful to hear your view and I can’t wait to read what Sara made of it all.

  4. adam

    [Note from Zack :: That comment sort of baffled me. Bernard was free to make any sort of image he and Sara agreed to make. We aren’t five year olds. We’re all adults here.]

    that was me and was said in jest.

    • Sara Lando

      I have to admit my first reaction reading that comment was to write a very long response about how freaking offensive that sentence was on several levels (not only about the fact that you were assuming someone other than myself has the right to decide who I show my boobs to, but also about assuming Bernard was “the intern” being given permission to finally hold a camera. Bernard is a great photographer who happens to be interning at another photographer’s studio), followed by a very convolute and stuck up essay about the weird relationships americans seem to have with boobs (I’ll never, EVER get over the fact that you guys photoshop nipples out. It freaks me out).
      But then I remembered that this is just the Internet and you were probably just trying to crack a joke and that I need to lighten up.
      I have to let you know it kind of fell flat, though.

      I also have to let Bernard know that this is SO NOT TRUE:
      “She also wore a strapless bra, so that helped with the illusion”.

      I did in the first shot, I took it off for the back picture. See? You need to be fucking looking at your subject, man.
      I have *awesome* boobs and you’ll never know, now.

      • Bernard

        Hahaha.. Sara, I assumed he was referring to the portrait shot and not the conceptual one, coz there’s no way in hell that anyone would think you wore a strapless bra in that 😉

        I paid attention ;P

      • Jorgen


        I saw this American program the other day that showed all the bloody gore of an actual boobjob (disgusting), only to blur the end result. That seemed the wrong way round to me…

  5. Timko

    I nailed it (or rather, you did) with my original comment when I said it looked like an Album cover for a sort of industrial band!

    • Bernard

      Ahh, yes… I remember that comment. The band in question isn’t industrial or electronic though, but well spotted otherwise 🙂

  6. Teresa Ste-Marie

    Hi Bernard-
    Congrats on your final shot of Sarah. Love the cool darkness of it.
    I’m curious, when she told you that you that you became a 13 year old boy when you picked up the camera, is that how you felt at the time?
    Thanks for posting.
    – Tess

    • Bernard

      Hey Tess

      Thank you very much. I didn’t feel like a 13 year old boy, but I did feel very nervous and out of place. I admire Sara very much and because of that I was babbling incessantly and pacing the room 🙂

      I had fun in the end though and the critique from her was greatly appreciated. I need to look calm on the surface and freak out on the inside – if necessary 🙂